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Full text of "General William Lee Davidson : an address"

General 
William Lee Davidson 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/generalwilliamle31grah 



}fr. Prcsidciif of the (1 nil ford Battle (! round Conipanij, Ladies 
and Genlli nii II : 

Fom-th of July celebrations are visually expectad to be ac- 
com})anieil with ilights of eloquence and streams of oratory as 
tlie deeds of our ancestors and the blessings they have secured 
for mankind are brought to memory. Although a century and 
a fourth have elapsed since he of whom I s^jeak to you gave his 
life as a part of the price of the indei>endence of America, yet 
so little history has been written concerning his services that 
a simple memorial oration would be but little understood or 
appreciated by my audience. In order to have true history, we 
must first collect the ''ana"' or account of the individual inci- 
dent or deeds of the individual. These the annalist arranges 
with reference to date of occurrence and then the liistorian is 
rea'ly for his work. ('om])arison of ev^ents and individuals 
with panegyrics, etc.. follow. Today 1 come not with an ora- 
tion, but with some *'ana," some annals, some history concern- 
ing my subject, a.Jid hope I may fnrni>h a paper that will be 
useful to the writer and student of North Carolina history. 1 
fear that man}^ of our ])eople do not ai>preciate the claims of 
the State to the glories and blessings of the Fourth of July — 
hail its coming with joyful acclaim and have a just pride in 
all that concerns it. The men of whom you shall hear today 
rendered their services and gave their lives to establish the 
Foui-th of July as an important date in the calendars of the 
nations (,f the ea.rth. 

Then while we will never <-ease to honor the memory of the 
men who followed Lee and his lieutenants in IS-'Jl-'O;"), let us not 
forget the services of those who followed Washington and 
Greene in 1776-'S1, and the blessings they purchased for us. 

In most of the States there are no localities to recall events 
of the Kevolution. The oldest inhabitant almost recollects the 
first house or even when the Indians left. The military monu- 
ments relate almost Avholly to the Civil War. And as the 
father tells his son of the hero commemorated, endjellishing 
with real or imaginary narration, he arouses and perpetuates 



secfional feeling and keeps alive in the yontli aniniosilv for a 
portion of his conntrynien. With us it is different: tliis battle- 
field, Moore's Creek, Charlotte and the other places of revolu- 
tionary engagements, are object lessons in teaching jtatriotisni. 
From almost every hill top in my vicinity we see King's ^loun- 
tain; it aids in perpetuating the valor of our ancestors a?id en- 
couraging love for the Union. 

• During the Civil War, Avhen the body of the heroic grandson 
was interred by that of the grandfather of Kevolutionary fame, 
pride was felt in his conduct and generations will be taught to 
remember it — but there was and has been no lessening of the 
admiration and veneration of the deeds of the grand-sire in 
making America a Nation. 

GfiN. WILLIAM LI:K D.WIHSON. 

Davif^son's Creek, having its source a few miles norlli of 
Mooresville, in Iredell (formerly Kowan) counly. Hows in a 
southeast direction and emi)ties into the Catawba i-iver below 
Beattie's Ford, in Meclclenburg county. 

Among the families that settled upon the lands of the upper 
portion of the creek prior to the Revolution were those of 
Davidson, Ramsey, Rrevard, Osborne, Winslow, Kerr, Rankin, 
Temi)leton, Dickey, Brawley, Moore and Emerson. They came 
principally from I'ennsylvania and Maryland. From the David- 
sons the creek derived its iL-ime. They were generall Scotdi- 
Ii-ish Presbyterians and as was the custom of these jieople, 
organized themselves int<> a "congregation" for the jM-omotion 
of religion and educatioiL 

Among the early settlers was George Davidson and family, 
from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in 1750. His youngest 
son, William Lee Davidson, was born in 171(5. He was edu- 
cated at Charlotte at the Academy, which afterwards became 
successively Queen's Museum and Liberty Hall, but probably 
attende'd the Centre Academy prior to coming to Charlotte. 
There is some confusion as to his name — whether 'Lee" is prop- 
erly a portion of it. He appears upon the muster rolls under 
both names. In his will, which is recorded in the office of the 
clerk of the Superior Court in Salisbury, he says: "I, William 



Lee Davidson," and si^ns it ''Wni. L. Davidson." This settles 
the (juestion. 

His pension and land grant for i-ervices are to William Da- 
vidson. He is not mentioned in the records as William Lee 
nntil he becomes liC'utenant-colonel, October 4, 1777. So in liis- 
torical matters he is both William and William Lee and cannot 
be restricted to either name. I think Lee was the maiden name 
of his mother, or some of her connection. His eldest son was 
called George Lee. His yonnjiest son, born several months 
after his death and named for him, was called William Lee. 

William Lee Davidson, after reaching his majority, made 
his home prior to his marriage with his cousin. Major George 
Davidson. He married ^larv, the eldest child of -John P»revard, 
and settled on Davidson's creek at what is now known as the 
McTherson place, and owned afterwards by Hon. Rnfus Reid. 
He also owned the land npon which Davidson College is 
located. It was sold by his son, William Lee, to the trnstees 
of the college in 1835. 

DAVIDSOX COITNTY. 

In 178.'>, the Legislature organized the county of Davidson 
an<l named the county-seat Xashville, in honor of (Jenei-als 
Da\'idson and Nash. When Tennessee was conveyed to the 
laiifed States this ceased to be a i»art of North Carolina, as 
did also Washington, Greene, ILiwkins, Sullivan and Sumner 
counties. In 1822, the present county of Davidscui was formed, 
as the State desired to honor his name. In 1777, the county of 
Nash had been organized. 

DAVIDSON COLL*EGE. 

August 20, 18;>5, the Concord Presbytery resolved "that the 
manual labor institution which we are about to build be called 
Davidson College, as a tribute to the memory of that distin- 
guished and excellent man. General William Davidson, who in 
the ardor of patriotism fearlessly contending for the liberty 
of his country, fell (universally lamented) in the battle of 
Cowan's Fora." 



THE DAVIDSON MONUMt^NT. 



September 20, 17S1, Congress enacted the following resolu 
tion : 

"That the Governor and (Council of tlie State of North ('aro- 
lina be directed to erect a inonunient at the expense of the 
United States, not exceeding in value live hundred <loll:irs, to 
the memory of the late lirigadier-C.eneral Davidson, wlu* com- 
manded the militia of the district (d" Salisbnr.v in the State of 
North Carolina, and was killed on the lirst of Februarv last, 
fighting gallantly for the defense of the lihcrly and inde[»<Mid- 
ence of these State." 

This matter was rcNivod in Congress at dilVerenl times, nota- 
bly by Senator ^^'. A. (Ji-aham in ISfl and 1S12, and atten- 
tion was called to it at various times by the Society of the (Mn- 
cinnali and private individuals, among tlieiu I'rof. \V. A. 
AAMthers, <»r the North Carolina A. iS: M. College, and later by 
the (JniltVtrd r.attle (Jround Company, and an a|»propiiation 
ni-ged to execute the residntion of 17S1. but not until 1!H(L', 
through the labors of Hon. W. W. Kitchin, the present worthy 
Re}»rcsentative fr*nn this, the Fifth North Candina Di.^trict, in 
the House of liepresentatives of the rnitcd States Con 
gi-ess. was an ai»])ropria(ion secured. He was matei-ially 
aided in its enaclnieiit by tiie lalxus of Ctdonel IJene- 
han Cameron, who re](resented the Society of the Cincin- 
nati, aud Col. Joseph M. Morehead, the etticient ]>resi«lent (d' 
the Guilford Battle Ground Comitany, to wlutse ]>atriotic sei-- 
vices much of the woi-k of preserving and adorning this historic 
field is due. F.y means of this appro]triation of five thousand 
dollai'S, this monument Juis been erected, (rnifrdl DurUlHun 
iras (I cilizoi of Itoi'dii [tioir Ircddl) coiiiilji. (iiuJ liis sci-riccs 
arc to he rrcditcd to tliat coiniti/ (tiid not to M i'cl}()ihur<i. <is is 
soiikI i incs (lone. 

In ISJ/S, in his iiicsmgv to the Lcf/ishitnrc, (iov. Graham 
rccoinntendid an appropriation for nionnnicnts to (lens. Xash 
and Daridson, as Congress had neglected io make the neces- 
sary provision. In concluding, he said: 

''It ivoiild he a. ptting memorial of the patriotic services and 



snerificrs of the illiisfrioiis dead and a perpetual incentive to 
the liriiKj to lead sueh lires, and if duty demanded it, to devote 
theniselres to such deaths for their cou}itry." 

SERVICES IN THE REVOLUTION. 

The comineiiceinent of hostilities in the Kevolution was not 
simihir to a riot or outbreak where one clay there is order and 
law, and the next strife and turmoil. The aspirations of the 
people indlvidnally and collectively for liberty and self-govern- 
ment were well fertilized by the o])pressive conduct of officers 
of the Crown and the unfriendly legislation of Parliament. 
The approach of the storm was visible and preparations were 
made for its coming. The liouring mills were the points where 
neighbors met. As he communicated his ideas of liberty to 
comrade he soAved seed in fertil e ground, or watered that 
already germinating; the work continued until the harvest was 
ripe. The tlrst organizations were in captains ''beats," which 
were the unit of organization until ''townships" were intro- 
duced in 18(>S, then by regiment or county, then Superior Court 
districts or brigade, afterwards State or Province. 

COMMITTEES OF SAFETY. 

The tirst governing bodies were Committees of Safety, and 
were organized in New Hanover, Mecklenburg, Rowan and per- 
haps other counties, as early as YilZ. The county cominittees 
were generally comi»osed of two representatives from each cap- 
tain's beat. The convention, May 20, 1775, at Charlotte, was 
probably the Committee of Safety for ]Mecklenl»urg county. 
Gen. Graham, in his address at Charlotte, INIay 20, 183"), says 
these committees continued for fifteen years or more. 

Subseiiuent to the Kevolution they usually met after the elec- 
tion and framed instructions to Representatives in the Legis- 
lature, that he received such instruction in 17S!) nnd 17!MI when 
Senator. That at that time (1835) there were laws in exist- 
ence that had been suggested by these committees. The journal 
of the Committee of Safety of KovN'an county is preserved as 
early as August 8, 1774, and shows existence before that date. 

William Davidson appears as a member Seijtember 23d, and 



was probably one of the members at the organization. He is 
a]»]>ointe(l a member of a committee <»f twenty-five to see that 
tlie resolves of the Provim-ial and Continental ('ongi-esses are 
observed. This is the first appearance of his name njxin Ihe 
records. At the same session he is appointed a member of a 
committee to cite certain i»ersons to ajtpear before the Commit- 
tee of i^afety to answer the charge of aihancing the i)rice of 
powder. 

iMii.rriA siORVicic. 

Angnst 1, 177;"), format i(tn of t-omjiMnies of "minnte men" is 
antlntrized, who sliall be ready to resjKiiid immediately to the 
call of the c<ui»mittee. At this session he is mentioned as caj)- 
tain of militia and ordered to iiiij)ress some ammnniti()n in the 
possession of dohn \Vork. Dui-ing this month the Provincial 
Congress i>rovided r«tr the <»rganizaii<in of the State and he is 
named on the committee for Kowan comity. The State simply 
extended the cai)tain's beat and connty (»rgani/>ation, retaining 
the name Committee of Safety, except for the State, which was 
called Provincial Conncil. 

Septend)er I'Oth, his militia company is rejtorted as contain- 
ing one hunilred and eighteen men. 

October 17, 177."), nnder the law of the Provincial Congress, 
he is elected a member of the Committee of Safety for the 
connty of Kowan, the committee being now elected by the free- 
liolders and honseholders of the connty. 

Novend)ei' 2Sth. he reported a company of minnte men as 
organized and a committee is apixdnted to inspect tlie c(tm- 
pany and see that it is comi>osed of ''able, elfective men.'' 

In December, 1775, lie served under Gen. Rutherford against 
tlie Schovelite tories in South Carolina in the "Snow Cam- 
l)aign," probably with liis comj>any of minute men; also in the 
campaign against the Cherokee Indians in the fall of 1770. 
(State Records, Vol. XV.. ]». 113.) 

TIIK NORTH CAROLINA LINE, OR CONTINENTALS. 

In August, 1775, North Carolina organized two regiments 
to serve "during the war." In April, 177(5, in compliance with 
the act of Congress to furnish nine battalions "to serve during 



9 

the war," four more regiments were orj>aiiize(l, wliicli, with the 
two formed the year before, six in all, comstitvited (he nine 
battalions. 

William Davidson was commissioned ^lajor of the Fourth 
Regiment April 15, 1770. 

These troops were designated the "North Carolina Line or 
Continentals," as distinguishing them from the miliiia, which 
retained its former organi/.ati(»n, and Avas called into service 
by the State authorities for designated terms of service, gener- 
ally three months. This distinction of troops was not observed 
by all the States. Massachusetts and the other New England 
States succeeded in having Congress to recognize nearly all 
their troops as ('ontinentals, however short the term of enlist- 
ment or call to service, and thus had a large force recorded as 
Continentals who did not serve nearly as long as many of the 
North Carolina militia, and the New England States thus 
secured the appointment of a much larger nund)er of general 
oflScers in the Continental force than they were justly entitled 
to, and obtained for their troops the benefit of the acts of the 
Continental Congress. The militia Avas under control of the 
State, the Continental, of Congress. 

The frequent reduction of Gen. Washington's forces to incon- 
veniently small numbers by the return home of nmny of the 
troops of the Northern States A\'hose short terms of enlistment 
Avould expire, interfered much with its efficiency and i)revented 
action of importance to the American cause. 

This New England continental Army, except the officers, was 
Avith difficulty kept embodied after Washington assumed com- 
mand during the siege of JJoston, oAving to short enlistments, 
and soon melted away Avlien the British evacuated the city in 
March, 1776. Having had a short military service, they re- 
turned home to enjoy the comforts of the fireside and the ap- 
propriations of the Continental Congress. 

In the campaign of 1776, the loss of the State of New York 
and the retreat through NeAv Jersey of Washington Avith his 
depleted army is attributed to this cause. 

Early in 1777, Congress, in order to remedy this evil, ordered 
the North Carolina I>rigade to march to re-enforce the armv 



10 

of the tM>imiuin(lei--iii-cliief, and runiisli liiiii a force that eoiihl 
be depended uiwn for permanent and ellirient sei-vice. 

These troops, under Col. Martin, (Jens. II(»\ve and Mo(»re, 
had "seen service" against the Schovilite tories in South Caro- 
lina; under Major-General Lee in the repulse ttf Clinton and 
Tarker at Charleston, S. C., and a.uaii'st the Loyalists of the 
Cape Fear section. Cen. Moore had died in April, 1777. (Jen. 
Howe was in command of the Department of the Soiilh. Col. 
Nash was promoted brigadier general and jdaced in command. 
The troops were in Charleston as late as February, but before 
May had assembled at Halifax and begun the march iiorih- 
ward. 

In .Ma\-, 1777, i\>\. Alex. >hirlin. uf I he Second Ke^iment, 
wriles (Jen. ^^'aslling•ton that he has readied Ah'.\aii.!ria. \'a., 
with the advance of the brigade; that nine ballalious, with a 
total of forty-five~ hundred men, had left ILilifax as i-eiufcuve- 
ments to his army; that the men who Isad not liai s;iialli>ox 
would go into camp (at (Jeorgetown) for iuoc'lation ; that 
Major dethro Sumner would i)roceed immediately wilh a com- 
uumd of all the immuues. A report of Major Sr.muer's «-o]n- 
mand, ten days later, shows only one hundred jui 1 sixty men. 
This would indicate that 4,300 uien went into cam]) for inocuhi- 
tion. The nr.mber which died cannot be accurately stated. 
(Jovernor Grahaui, in his address uison the "Life and Character 
of (Jen. (Jrreene" (December, ISCjO), states that "An extensive 
burial place is still recognized in that jdace (Georgetiiwn) as 
the sepulchre of the North Car<dina trtutps who die.1 there of 
the nuUady." This was twenty years before the discovery of 
vaccination. The disease was communicated Ijy a}>j)lying (lie 
virus from one alTlicted with it to the patient, and he had a 
genuine case of smallpox. Courage to endure the agonies of 
this camp was greater than that to face the eue;ny in battle. 

The trooi>s reached Washington's airmy iu June at Miildle- 
brook. New Jersey, and were organized by Gen. Nash. 

There is no report of the services of this brigade as ;i bo<ly 
iu the cami)aigns under Gen. Washington. It is only fmui 
references to service or parts of it by other officers that w:3 
procure any inforftiation. Conceruiug its action iu the battle 



11 

of GermantoAvn in wliicli tlie brigade was a part of the division 
of Major-General Oreene, Marshall and other historians only 
state tliat Gen. Nash was killed. It is known that Col. Irwin 
and Gapt. Turner were killed, Col. IMinroinbe was mortally 
wounded and taken prisoner and ('(d. Tolk wounded. 

(Jen. Sullivan, of New Ifanipshire, in his report to the Gov- 
ernor of that State, says a North Garoliua regiment, under 
Col. Armstrong, in conjunction with his own division, had 
driven the enemy a mile and a half beyond Chew's house, be- 
fore the panic occurred. The North Carolina brigade was act- 
ing as a unit, and it is ])0ssible that this was the work of the 
entire comnmnd Avith Col. Armstrong conspicuously in the van. 
Davidson is pi'omoted this date to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 
Fifth Regiment. Tradition says for gallantry in the action. 

The earliest report of the strength of the brigade on the 
records of the United States War Department is November 
11, 1777, and shows 139 oflicers and 1,025 men, total 1,150 pres- 
ent for duty. 

After the battle of Brandy wine, September 11, 1777, the 
Second and Third Regiments were consolidated and were called 
the Second. After the battle of Germantown, the First and 
Fourth v/ere merged into the First. The Eighth Uattalion was 
disbanded, the men in it being transferred to the Second Regi- 
ment. This would indicate severe loss in the North Carolina 
troops in these actions. 

Davidson appears as Lieutenant-Colonel of the First in 
1777 and 1780. In May, 1778, Congress ordered the consolida- 
tion of the North Carolina troops into full battalions and that 
the officers not needed to command these battalions should 
return to North Carolina to command the four additional regi- 
ments to be furnished by the State. Moon's creek, near the 
^^irginia line, in Caswell county, on the old plank road, about 
midway between Danville, Va., and Yanceyville, N. C, and 
Halifax were named as points of rendezvous for the troops; 
and conuiiissioners sent to these points to designate the officers 
of the respective commands. A church of the Primitive Bap- 
tists called by the name now marks the locality of Moon's 



12 

Creek encampment. The whole to assemble at Bladensburg, 
Maryland. 

Lientenaut-Colonel Davidson assumed command of lh(»sc 
who met at Charlotte, being joined on the mtirch by \<)lun- 
teers from other points. On reaching Moon's Creek, news of 
the battle of Monmouth was received; that the T.i-ilish had 
gone to New York and there was no ui-gent need of reinforce- 
ments, ^lany of the men from western Noi-lh Carulina took 
furloughs until again called to service. There was considei-able 
dissatisfaction and some mutinous conduct <»n tlie j»arl of sctmc 
of tiie officers and men as to payment of l»ounty and hxing a 
definite time for service to commence. This was to 1k' alter 
passing the State's border. 

July ISth, Col. Thackston writes Col. TTogan about sending 
the paymaster at (nice to Col. DavidsoiTs relief, c(mcerning 
Avhich he (Davidson) had written him. Col. Davidson nssuun'd 
command of those who continued in sei-vice ami after these dis- 
agreements were !-ettled, moved to liladensburg to join the c<^>n- 
tingent that had assembled at Halifax, and tiience to Washing 
ton's army. They remained with this army until November, 
1779, when the North Carolina Continental Drigade was or- 
dered to reinforce Gen. Lincoln at Charleston. 

In May the Legislature had reciuestel the brigade to be sent 
south. Congress re})lied that this Avas impracticable in the 
summer, but it would be done in the fall. The brigade then 
numbered seven hundred and thirty-seven eihcient men. D ar- 
rived at Charleston in March. Col. Davidson having (detained, 
en route, a furlough to visit his family, did not report at 
Charleston before it was encompassed by the enemy and thus 
escaped cai)ture at the surrender. 

The muster rolls of the (Continental Line show timt the fiel 1 
officers of a regiment each had a com[)any, the ca.ptains being 
omitted in organization of such companies. In ^'ol. NIV. of 
The State Records, page 294, there is the roll of Lieutenant- 
Colonel W. L. Davidson's com})any on April 23, 1779. It con- 
tained, after leaving the snrallpox camp, (i2 men; 19 of these 
had died; 9 were in the hospital and 32 present for duty, a 
death rate of 31 per cent., of dead and disabled 47 per cent. 



13 

Tlie bi'iji'ade siilforod sevoroly in tlie service witli (Umi. ^VnsIlinJ^- 
toii. 

It jserved in rennsylvania, New Jersey ;uul New York, going 
as far North as West I'oint (one of Davidson's men died at 
West Point) ; fonglit in the battle of jNloninonth and sliared in 
all the hardships of this memorable ejioch of the war in that 
section. 

The State Avas to snpply tlie clothing, the national govern- 
ment the rations; the officers to purchase both for themselves. 
Both officers and men suffered severely, the arrearage of pa3' 
causing the officers to see even "harder times" than the men, 
as is shown by corresjtondence witli the State authorities. A 
letter from (icn. Lockton Mcintosh to Gov. Caswell from the 
camp at Valley Forge, states that no troojis suffered nntre in 
the intensely cold winter of 1777-S than did those of North 
Carolina in Washington's army. 

In this service, although we see but little recorded mention 
of Col. Davidson, the esteem in which he Avas held by his com- 
rades, and others familiar with military movements, shoAvs that 
he Avas ajiiong the most efficient officers of the brigade. 

I have never seen a report subsequent to that of Col. Martin 
in 1777, that returns more than 2. (MM) men. Of tlie 4, ")()!) men 
AA'ho left Halifax in May, 1777, and the re-enforcements sent in 
177S, only 7;>7 etVective men i-eturned to Norlh Carolina in De- 
cember, 177!). The i"e]»ort for January, 177!), shows jaesent 
1,33!), of Avhom 448 are sick. The Third Kegiment re]»orts 35 
effective out of 4(»4. 

SERVICE IN NOUTII CAROLINA MILITIA. 

When Lord Kawd<in in May, 17S(), began his advance toward 
North Carolina. (Jen. Kutherford, Avho commanded the militia 
of the Salisbury district, /. c. of KoAvan, iNIecklenburg. Lincoln, 
Rutherford, F.urke, and the counties in Avhat is now Tennessee, 
called his forces into service. Some for three months, the 
usual length of a term of service, and some for such time as 
actually needed. 

Col. Davidson reported to him at ('harlotte for duty. Gen. 
Rutherford formed a battalion of light infantrv (as mounted 



14 

infantry were then designated) of one linndred men, and as- 
signed him to this command, rrincipally by tlie aid of (Jen. 
Graham's "Kevolutionry I'apers" we ean connectedly follow his 
service from this time nntil death. 

colson's aiii>l. 

When Ixn-d Kawdon retired 1o Camden, he went willi (5en. 
Rntherford to Kamsanr's Mill, where they arrived a few honrs 
after the conliict had terminated. From here he marched with 
Gen. Kntherford to suppress the Tory leader Bryan in the 
"forks of the Yadkin." The forks of the Yadkin, as mentioned 
in hist<»i-y of this time, was not the territory between North 
and South Yadkin rivers, but that between the creeks east of 
the Yadkin, mostly in what is now Surry county. IJryan, whose 
force numbered eight hundred, having learned of tbe battle of 
Ramsaur's Mill and Rutherford's advance against him, hastily 
departed to unite with Maj. McArthur on the Pee Dee. Gol. 
Davidson, with his command, which, according to Maj. Tdount's 
letter to (lov. Nash, numbered 1C>() (\'(d. NV., ]». <'., State 
Records), being mounted, was dis]iatcheil down the west side 
of the Yadkin to overtake him, but the start he had and the 
celerity with which he moved, enabled liryan to reach his 
friends without molestation. Learning that a i>arty of Tories 
were at Gcdson's M\\\ (now probably Lowder's, in Stanly 
county), near the junction of Rocky and Pee Dee rivers, Col. 
Davidson, on July 21st, undertook to surprise and cai)tur? 
them, but his movements being discerned by the enemy, onh' 
partially succeeded; he killed three, wounded four and cap- 
tured ten. He was severely woundcil through the loins; aiteu 
tion being probably called to him by his conspicuor-s uniform; 
two of liis men were also wounded. He was carried hiune 
where he remained two months. 

Al'POINTED BRIGADIER (iENERAL. 

Gen. Rutherford was wounded and caidured at the battle of 
Camden, August Kith. Gen. H. W. Harrington, of the Fayette- 
ville district, w^as assigned temporarily to the command of the 
Salisbury district. Gen. Sumner having been assigned to the 



15 

coiiHuaiul of tlie militia in service otlier llian that of tlie Salis- 
bury district, had Col. Uavidson a}»i>oiiited to coiinnand the 
"horse'' of his coiiniiaiul. On Auj^^ust ^Jlst, the Legislature 
appointed Colonel l)a\idson IJrigadier-General of uiilitia for 
the Salisbury disti-ict dr.rini>- (teneral IJutherford's absence, 
and Major William K. Davie t-olonel of the cavalry. These 
a]»i»oiiitiiients met with hearty ai»i»roval in the Salisbury 
district, but Gen. Harrington, beiiiii' offended at the ap- 
p(»intment of Gen. Davidson, j>ave notice of his resignation 
as brigadier-general of militia so soon as the condition of 
affairs in his immediate command would admit, and on Novem- 
ber 3d, tendered it to the l)Oard of AVar. He complained of 
being deprive! of command of the first brigade in the State 
a deserved comijliment to the Salisbury district. Gen. Har- 
rington had been an efficient officer and i>erfornied valuable 
services in the Fayetteville district. There was considerable 
jealousy between the militia and Continental officers when 
thrown in the same command. 

Upon the reception of his commission, Gen. Davidson, having 
recovered from his wound, inunediately repaired to Charlotte 
and entered upon his duties. He still, however, retaineil his 
commission of lieutenant-colonel in the Continental line. The 
militia were assembling to oppose the advance of Cornwallis, 
the ren<lezvons \Aas at ^McCaljnn's creek, seven miles from 
Charlotte, on the i'amden road. 

When Ferguson moved into Rutherford and linrke counties, 
Gen. Davidson ordered a force of militia to assemble at Sher- 
rill's Ford to o](pose him, the supposition being that Ferguson 
would cross the Catawba near the mountains, and nu>ve down 
the Yadkin in order to aid Cornwallis in crossing that stream. 
Col. Francis Locke, of Kowan, one of the most gallant and use- 
ful officers of this time, commanded at SherrilTs Ford, and was 
to be re-enforced by Col. Williams with the militia of Surry 
and other counties. Col. Locke had won the battle at Rani- 
saur's ^lill, three months before, when sent by Gen. Rutherford 
on similar service. 



16 



CORNWALLIS AT CHARLOTTE. 



The Yadkin had been designated as tlie place of battle and 
when Coi-nwallis advanced on the 25tli of September, (Jen. 
Sumner, with his command, immediately moved, not stopping 
until he had crossed at Trading Ford, near where the Southern 
Railroad now crosses. Gen. Davidson took jmsition at Mallaid 
Creek, eight miles from Charlotte, and committed to Col. Davie 
tlie opposition of Cornwallis' entrance to Charlotte and Davie 
in turn committed covering the retreat to Adjutant Graham. 
There seems to have been no intention to re-enforce the i)arties 
engaged in the tight, but each command was expected after en- 
gaging the enemy, to escape as best he could. An account of 
the gallant tight at Charlotte and the Cross Koads would too 
much enlarge my narrative and is well told elsewliere. Corn- 
wallis was awaiting news from P>rguson and did not advance 
beyond Charlotte. Gen. Sumner did not recross the Yadkin ; 
Gen. Davidson kept his command at Phifer's, and by detach- 
ments annoyed the expeditions sent from Charlotte into the 
adjacent country for provisions and sujijilies. and kept Corn- 
wallis in ignorance of the movements of his allies. These 
forays extended entirely around Charlotte and there were en- 
gagaments almost daily, the most noted being that at Mcln- 
tyre's farm, October od. The rejmrts of Coi-nwallis and his 
officers testify to the gallantry of the troops and the ])atriotism 
of the Mecklenburg ]»eoi>le in these atfairs. While the militia 
that were called into service to opi>ose Ferguson were assem- 
bling at Sherrill's Ford. Colonels Cleveland, McDowell, Sevier, 
Shelby, Hampton, Winston, of North Carolina, and Campbell, 
of Virginia, of their own accord, wei"e assembling for the same 
object such of their men as would answer their call. 

AVhen they had assembled about 1,500 men near Gilberts- 
toAvu, Rutherford county, the question as to who was entitled 
to command could not be satisfactorily adjusted, as they were 
all colonels. On October 4tli they sent Col. Josei)h :\IcDowell 
to Gen. Gates, asking for an officer to be sent to command the 
force. The following are extracts fi'om this communication, 
viz. : 



17 

''As we have at this time called out onr militia without any 
orders from the executives of onr dilfercnit Stales, iind with the 
view of expellinj* the enemy ont of this part of the conntrv, we 
think such a body of men ^^•<>rthy of your attention and would 
rcijuest you to send a jieneral officer immediately to take the 
command of such troojis as nniy endxxly in this ([uarter. All 
our Iroojhs heinii uiililia and but little acipiainted with disci- 
]»line, we could wish him to be a iientleman and able to keep uj* 
a pr(tper discipline without dis,nustin_n the soldiery. 

"It is the wish of such of us as are acipminted with Gen. Da- 
vidson and Col. INIoryan (if in service), that one of these gen- 
tlemen nuiy be appointed to this command. 

''Benja]\[in Cleveland, 
"Isaac Shelby, 
"Andreav Hampton, 
"AViLLL^M Campbell, 
"Joseph Winston." 

Tlie Norlh Carolina men belonged to tJen. Davidson's com- 
mand and it is highly proltable that he would have been sent. 

In the meantime Col. Cam]»be!l, having individually the 
largest number of men, was given command, and on October 
7th, the enemy was found and the battle of King's Moinitain 
won before a connnan(]er was sent. Soon after this (Jen. Snmll 
wood, (»f Maryland, who had acted so gallautly at Cam leu and 
had been appointed Major-General or conunander of the North 
(_'arolina militia in service, arrived and assumed connuand. 
Gen. Sumner was atfronte:! at the ai)]M»intment and retired 
from service for a time, or until the arrival of (xen. Greene. We 
have at this time quite a chapter of dissatisfaction on account 
of promotions. Hari'ington vs. Davidson, Caswell and Sumner 
vs. Suiallwood, and Smallwood vs. liaron Stueben, if he should 
be ]»laced over Iuul 

The time for which the militia had been called in service ex- 
pired in November. Gen. Gates had been relieved of the com- 
mand of the Southern army and his successor. Gen. Greene, 
had arrived at Charlotte December 3d. Early in December 
Gen. Davidson ordered into service another detail of militia 
for three months. It seems to liave beea Gen. Katheriord's 



18 

plau to have had his regiments divided into "details" to be 
called into service in succession, while in some commands when 
a call to service was issued, first volunteers were called (ov to 
fill it, and what was lacking in volunteers, was obtained by 
draft. One detail had been sent to Charleston; anotiiei- had 
been called to meet the first a<lvance of (Nu-nwallis; now a 
third is needed to be in readiness when he again enters the 
State. 

DAVIItSON's PLAN OF CAINirAKJN. 

Before the arrival and assumption <d" command of (Jen. 
Greene, iV^ovember 2Tth, Gen. Davidson wrote a private not<' to 
r<d. Alex. Martin suggesting a plan of campaign in opi>ositi(m 
to Cornwall is : 

- NOTE TO COL. jMAUTIX. 

'Sir: — IJ.v this time you may be acquainted with the posi- 
tion the army is to take for the i)resent. In the nu'antime it 
appears to me that a i)ro])er exertion of the militia of my dis- 
trict might greatly injure if not totally ruin the British army. 
I have been delil>erating on this matter some time and submit 
my plan to your consideration, and iiope that you will en- 
deavor to ](resent it or something that will be more eligible. 
My scheme is to send Gen. ^Morgan to the westward with his 
light troops and rifiemen; one thousand volunteer militia, 
which I can raise in twenty days, and the refugees from Sout^h 
Carolina and (Jeorgia to join, which will make a formidable 
body of desperadoes, the whole to be under Morgan's direction, 
and proceed immediately to Ninety Six and prossess ourselves 
of the w:esteru parts of South Carolina, at the same time the 
main army to move down to the wax haws, which will oblige 
the enemy to divide (which will put them quite in our power), 
or vacate the present posts and collect to one point, in which 
case we can command the country, cut off their supplies and 
force them to retreat and fight the militia in their own way. 
The mer&eager waits. T have neither time nor room to make 
further observations. I think the scheme practicable and cer- 



19 

lain of success, nnloss the eneniv be i-e-enCoi-ced. Favor me 
witli vtnir o|>iiiioii on tliis matter, and iK'lieve me, dear sir. 
"Voiir very obedient and lionoral)le servant, 

"W.M. Davidsox. 

' N. I>. — This c<»mes to von in a private cajtacify." (State 
Records, XIV., p. 751).) 

As Gen. Davidson's troo}!S were all infantry, about Jannar\ 
1st he proposed to Adjt. Joseph (Iraham, who had ah'eady 
served one term or three months, altlioniili exenjjit for three 
years on acconnt of nine months' service in tiie Continental 
line, and who had jnst recovered frinn wt>nnds received at Char- 
lotte Septend»er 2r»th, to enlist a body of cavalry, jn-omisinj;' 
him such raidc a^ the nnml)er e;ilisted won]<] entitle hijn to. In 
a few weeks he had hi'ty-tive men, only three of whoni were mar- 
ried, end>odied, and he was commissioned captain. 

orr-osixG corxwalijs. 

Gen. Greene, in o}t]»osino- Cornwallis" second advance into 
NoV-th Carolina, disposed his forces as follows: Gen. Hnger 
with tlie C(»ntinentals at T'heraw. S. C.. on the east ; (len. ]\[or- 
o;an witli H(!ward ami Col. William Washington's cavalry and 
some Xortii Car(»iina militia iin^'er Col. Joseph McDowell, near 
I'road i-iver, on the west; for a central force, connecting these 
and ]irepared to a.ct with either as occasion might require, he 
relied ni)on the miliii.a of Kowan and ^Mecklenburg, under (ien. 
Davidson. The militia of these counties from the formation 
of committe3s of safety until the close of the war, while answer- 
ing in full ](roj>ortion all calls for troo]is for the line or militia 
service beyond the State, seem to have regarded themselves as 
always ready to answer calls to service in their own locality, 
clainnng no exemptions to which any might be entitled on ac- 
C(uint of any previous service. They only asked that the call 
should be for fighting and not for ordinary cam]) duty; as 
soon as the fight was over they return home with or without 
leave. The history of the Kevolutiiui shows no history of 
greater valor and ])atriotisni. 

At the battle of Cowpens, January, 1781, Gen. Morgan de- 
feated Tarleton, and by death wounds and capture, deprived 



20 

Cornwallis of the service of one-fifth of tlie most valuable of his 
regular troops. Cornwallis, in his forward movement, would 
have to cross the Catawba; arrangements were made lo annoy 
ami injure him while so doing, and this dutv was assigned Id 
Gen. l)avids(»n and his North Carolina militia. Cen. (Ireene 
seems to have had no intention of a battle with Cornwallis; he 
ordered (Jen. Huger, who commaui^eil the Continentals at Che- 
raw, to retreat to Cuilfoi-d Court House, which he himself 
proceeded to do, and when he joined him there continued his 
journey across the Dan. 

Gen. Davidson made his arrangements at the respective 
fords on the Catawba river; ]»ickets of cavalry were ]»laced at 
Tuckaseege, Toole's and Cowan's Fords. Col. John Williams, 
of Surry, with two hundred men at Tuckaseege; Capt. Potts, of 
Mecklenburg, at Toole's, with seventy; Lieutenant Thomas Da- 
vidson, of Mecklenburg, at Cowan's, with twenty-tive. It was 
supposed that the crossiiLg- would be at Beattie's Ford, the best 
crossing on the river, and on the main line of travel in passing 
through this section. Here were assembled the Orange County 
militia, under Col. Farmer, and the Mecklenburg under Col. 
Thomas Tolk. and some of the Rowan men. Gen. Davidson 
mane his headquarters at this point. Gen. Greene having noti- 
tied him that he desired to see Gen. Morgan an<l Col. Washing- 
ton at ]>eattie's Ford, dispatched his brother-in-law, K[»hraim 
Davidson, then only a lad, to notify them. On January ,*Ust, 
all parties had arrived at the appointed place within ten min- 
utes. After an interview of half an hour they se])arated. The 
enemy appeared on the opposite bank during the conference. 
In the isorth Carolina Booklet for April,, 19()G, is a detailed 
account of the battle of Cowan's Ford, hence I omit ]>articulars 
of it. Gen. Davidson, by the aid of Graham's cavalry, who fre- 
quently crossed the river, kept well posted as to the position of 
the enemy. Gen. Greene suggested that the ai)pearance at 
Beattie's Ford was jtrobably a ruse and that Cornwallis would 
pass Tarleton over the river during the night at some private 
ford and attack Davidson in the rear at the point selected for 
crossing. Patrols were ordered up and down the river be- 
tween the fords, to be kept moving all night. Gen. Davidson, 



21 

after Greene's departure, remarked to Capt. Graham that ''This 
was Gen. Greene's first view of tlie Catawba, but he seemed to 
know as much about it as those who were reared on it.'' 

(ien. ihividson had probably learned through friends that 
Cowan's had been selected as the point of crossin«>', and moved 
Col. Polk's force and Graham's cavalry to this point, where 
they arriveil after dark and spent the ni.«ht near by. Inlorma- 
tion received led them to jkink that the horse ford would be 
chosen as the route for the crossing. This information was 
probably gained from persons who had heard the in(]uiries of 
the officers as to the fords. The horse ford was much the best 
bottom and shallower water, while the wagon ford was not half 
the length. The horse ford reaches the bank a quarter of a. 
mile below the wagon ford. 

(JEN. DAVIDSON KTLLP^D. 

Gen. O'Hara, supported by Tarleton, had been chosen as the 
force to cross at Cowan's. The British entered the water; 
O'llara's infantry in front, with i)oles to steady themselves 
against the swiit current, Tarleton's cavalry following. About 
tiie time "O'llara m(»ved, Webster had his men to go into the 
river at J'eattie's Ford and fire their guns; also opened with 
his artillery; made a feint as if he were going to cross in order 
to detract attention from Cowan's. As soon as Lieutenant Da- 
vidson's pickets discovered the enemy, they opened fire. They 
Avere re-enforced by Graham's men, dismounted, Avho joined in 
the firing. Gen. Davidson, hearing the firing, rei)aired imme- 
diately to Col. Polk's command and ordered them to move up 
to the wagon ford. He directed Capt. Graluim to give place to 
Polk's men and to mount his men, form on the ridge in the 
rear and be p'rei)ared to meet any attack as (ien. Greene had 
suggested. The enemy reached the bank before many of l*olk's 
men got into jtosition, and secui-ing the crossing, immediately 
loaded, and advancing up the bank, l)egan firing. Gen. David- 
son ordererl a retreat for 1(10 yards down the river. The firing 
became so heavy that his command fell back fifty yards farther. 
tie ordered his men to take shelter l)ehind the trees and renew 
the battle. The enemy were advancing in line, firing sh>wly, 



22 




Fiom Cell. J. 1\ Gra/hun and llis Revolutionary I'apcis. 



23 

when Gen. Davidson Avas sliot, beinjj instantly killed. The in- 
t'antrv immediately dispersed, lioinj; 11ir<»ni;h the hushes to 
avoid the enemy's cavalry, ('apt. (Jraham l)i-oni;ht olT his com 
mand in order. 

(Jen. Davidson was shot through the left breast hy a small 
ritie hall. As the British carried muskets, this is sujtposed 
to have bten done by a Tory, who acted as jiilot to the enemy in 
crossing the river. The enemy did not discover Gen. David- 
son's body. They buried the three other Americans who were 
killed at the river, and all of their dea:l, including ^laj. Hall. 
He fell down the river from the for.l and they moved up the 
rivei- on leaving. Gen. Davidson's horse, after he fell, Avent to 
the house of Maj. John Davidson, Avliere Jos. G. Davidson now 
lives, near Toole's Ford. Major. David ^Vils(»n, who was with 
Gen. Davidson when he fell, assisted by his pastor, Rev. Mr. 
McGaiil, and Richard Hairy, took the body to the residence of 
Samuel AVilson, where it was prepared for burial and that 
nij^ht interred at Hopewell church, some three miles away, by 
torchlight, as the night v/as very dark. It is stated by some 
writers that the bot-y, before recovery, ha 1 been stripped of its 
clothing, -but this is very improbable. His sword was recovered 
and is now preserved at Davidson College. D' the clothing had 
been taken, the sword Avould not have been left. His grave is 
still known, although unmarked by memorial stone. Mrs. Da- 
vidson was informed of the General's death at her home some 
eight or ten miles aAvay, and her neighbor, George Temjdeton, 
Avhose descendants still live in the community near Moores- 
ville, accompanied her to the burial. 

Thus at the age of thirty-four years fell one of the most use- 
ful men that North Gar.tlina furnished in the struggle for inde- 
pendence, after more than six years service in varior.s posi- 
tions, in each of which he met the demands of the occasion. 

Light Horse Harry Lee says of him in his "3Ie:noirs :"' 

"The loss of I'rigadier Davidson would have been always 
felt in any stage of the war. D Avas particularlj' detrimental 
in its effects at this period, as he Avas the chief instrument re- 
lied uiion by Greene for the assembly of the militia, an event all 
important at this crisis and anxiously desired by the American 



24 

general. The ball i)assed tlii'ou<;li his breast and he instantly 
fell dead. This iiroiiiising soldier was thus lost to his conntrj 
in the meridian ol' life and at a moment when his services 
would have been hiiihly beneficial to her. lie was a man of 
popular manners, jdeasinjn address, active and inilefati^able; 
devoted to the profession of arms and to the great cause for 
which he fought. His future rsefu.lness may be inferred from 
his former conduct. The Congress of the I'nited States in 
gratitude for his services and in commemoration of Iheir sense 
of his worth, passed suilabk' resolutions." 

He made his will Decendier, 17S(>, appointing his father-in- 
law, John Rrevaril, his bother-in-law, W'lu. Sliar]»e, and -John 
Dickey executors. Only Dickey and Sharpe acted, and in 17S3 
presented a memorial to the Legislature of the State for set- 
tlement of an_iorint due for his sei-vices. This was ordered ]>aid. 
The matter is again referred to in the session of 17!)(>, Novem- 
ber L".»tli, and of 17!)!'. H. .1. I)ecend»er .".tli. \\'lien he was ap- 
pointed brigadier-generaf of the militia, he still reiaine;l his 
position ii the "line" as (Jen. Kutherl'ord would when ex- 
changed, assume the command of the luilitia. In l)ecend)er, 

1780, (Jen. Sumner was ordered by Congress to report the 
supernumerary officers of the Continental line who were unnec- 
essary on account of the reduced number of the force, ami c<)uld 
be dropped. (Jen. Sumner, in making liis rejtort danuai'y 27, 

1781, to Gen. Greene, regrets that the country is to lose the 
valuable services of these officers. He includes Gen. Davidson 
in the list, as he states at his re(iuest. (State Kecords, \'ol. 
XV., p. 501.) 

On Dccend>er ;}1, 1780, his connection with the North Caro- 
lina Continentals ended, but the dropped officers, or their 
widows, were to receive half pay until seven years after the 
close of the war. (101, Vol. XV.) 

Davidson's rrigadb after his death. 

As this [taper is intended to be historical a short notice of 
Gen. Davidson's Brigade after his death is annexed. A full 
account of this is given in Gen. Graham's Kevolutionary I'apers. 
They did not conclude that as the enemy had left their borders 



25 

tliey would return home and leave liim to the attention of those 
A\ honi he niiglit next visit, but being- unable to stop his advance, 
foiiiH'd to annoy his rear and serve as best they could wherever 
needed unMl their term of service expired. They assembled at 
Harris' Mill, on Kocky river, the next day and started in ]»nr- 
suit of the enemy. On the 11th of February at Sliallow Ford 
they requested Gen. Andrew Pickens, of South Carolina, to as- 
sume command, as there was no general officei- of this State 
present, and Major James Jackson, of Georgia, afterwards Gov- 
ernor of that State, was ap])ointed brigade major, or as Ave say 
now adjutant general. There were seven hundred of David- 
son's men and some thirty or forty refugees from South Caroli- 
na and (icorgia. Gen. Pickens continued in command until the 
expiration of the three months' term of his men early in March 
and just before the battle of Guilford Court House. 

Gen. Pickens, being from South Carolina, has caused histo- 
ria.ns to credit these troops to that State. Gen. Pickens was a 
brave and efficient commander and his association with the 
North Carolina troops entirely jdeawant, but the troojis were 
North Carolinians and their services should be credited to the 
State. On February 18th, pre]»arations for battle were made 
upon the alarm of "Tarleton is coming." It proved to be Light 
Horse Harry Lee with his legion, whose, unifcu'm — dark green — 
was the same as that of Tarleton. This was the tirst intelli- 
gence that Gen. (Jreene had of the Avhereabouts of Davidson's 
command or that Pickens had that Greene had recrossed the 
Dan. The brigade then served with Gen. Greene until the term 
of service exj tired early in March, participating in the engage- 
ment at Cla})ps, Whitsell or Hart's Mills, Pyle's massacre and 
other points. Some of them remained longer but the last de- 
parted for home March 10. 

A query, concerning which, the students of history can em- 
l>loy themselves is : whether the seven hundred men of David- 
son's brigade, nearly all of whom had seen service in two or 
three campaigns, would not have been more valuable in the bat- 



26 

tie of Guilford Court House than those of the raw troops of 
Butler and Eaton ; and if it was not a mistake in Gen. Greene 
to defer battle awaiting tlie arrival of the latter until Pickens 
(or Davidson's) men had been disbanded. 



PAPER RELATING TO GEN. DAVIDSON'S SERVIGES. 



ROLL OP AV. L. KAVIDSON S COMPANY. 

Pension Office. P>ook entitled "Novtli Carolina Miseella- 
ueons Rolls." Not paged. 

Roll of Lieutenant Col. Davidson's Company on the 2oi'd of 
A](i-il. 1771): (Coi»ied from Orderly Pook of Sergeant Isaac- 
Rowel.) 

First Lieutenant — Edward Yarborongli. 

Second Lieutenant — Reuben Wilkerson. 

Sergeant — Isaac Rowel, John Ilorton, John Godwin. 

Corporal — Jesse Raggett, Dempsy Johnson, James Tliorp. 

Privates — Adam Brevard. Samuel Boyd, James Boyd, Uriah 
Bass, Bii-d, Cornett, Timothy Morgan, -losepli Furtrell, Wm. 
Grant, Daniel Parker, Council I^.ass, Fifer, Barny Johnson, 
Richard Sumner, Sothey JManly, Booth Newton, Pioneer, Wm. 
Scott, Pioneer, Lemon Land, Waiter, Hardy Short, John Nor- 
wood, Joshua Reams, l»uckner Floyd, Wm. Hatchcock, Solo- 
mon Deberry, Thomas Wiggins, Wm. Wilkinson, John Wilson, 
David Journekin, Samuel Davis. 

Left at Hospital — Barnaby Murrel, Drummer, Wm. JNIoore, 
Charles (Jilison, James Robai-ds, Sterling Scott, Waiter, Hardy 
Porliss, AVm. Smith, Isliam Jones, Lithro Lane, left at Trenton, 
Johsua Lewis, Robert Monger, Wm. Gray, Jos. ^A'ard, Isaac 
Gunns, Chas. Thomjison, John (/arter, an<l James Goodson, died 
at New Windsor Hospital, jMaryland; John Feasley, died at 
West Point; Henry Short and Caleb Woodard, at Robertson's 
Hos]»ital and IMatth.ew Murrel, Andrew Rowell, Peter Valen- 
tine, Josiah Measley. Benj. Brittle, John Clark, John Batliss 
and John Floyd, at I'hiladelphia Hospital. (State Rec, XIV., 
page 294.) 

Davidson's commission as brigadier general. 

"State of North Carolina. 
"In the House of Commons, 31st August, 1780. 
"Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen : 
"Whereas from the late captivation of General Rutherford 



2H 

by the eiieiuy iu South (^'aroliua the inilithi of t^alisbui y dis- 
trict is in a manner left destitute of a general officer to com- 
mand them ; therefore 

"Resolved, That William Lee Davidson be appointed briga- 
dier (ieneral of the militia for said district until tlu^ retnrn of 
General Kntherford from cajdivity. 

"THOMAS BEN 1 5 UK Y, 

Speaker Commons." 
■ "In the Senate 31st August, 1780, concurred with 

"ALEX MAKTIX, 
"Speaker Senate." 

COUNCIL OF WAR. 

At a Connci] of Wav iiebl at the caiiii* at X<'W Pro\i- 
dence, iu the State of North Carolina, the L*,"»th of Novem- 
ber, 17S0, consisting of the Comman<ler-in-Chier, ]\Lijor- 
(Jeneral Smallwond, l.!rigadier-C.eneral Ilngei-, llrigadier- 
CcMieral Morgan, r>rigadieil-( Jenei-al l>avids<»n. Colonel Kos- 
ciusko, Cliief lOngineer, Colonel Ituford, Lientenant-Colonel 
Howard, Lieutenant-Colonel Washington. 

The Council being assembled the Commander-in-Chief ac- 
<(uaintes them that: The want of jtrovisions and forage in the 
cam]*, the advanced season of the year, the almost total 
(ailure of the herbage, the entire want of a magazine of salt 
meat and the uncertainty of jtroviding it, the inci-easing sick- 
ness and the un>\holesonu> situation of the camp, the want of 
any jtroper accommodation of the sick, the want of hosi»otal 
stores and ])ro})er comforts necessary for sick and diseased sol- 
diers, the i)robability of reinforcement being sent from the 
enemy at New York, the invjision of Virginia, and the ai>i»ar- 
ent ])rospect of Sir Harry Clinton's su])]»orting that invasion 
and commanding a co-operation Avith Cornwallis, the State 
and strength of the army compared with that of the enemy, 
and the expediency of reinforcement coming to our army are 
the motives which induced him to assemble this Council of War 
and re<pu'st their oi>inion of the nun'ement and the position 
that the army ought to take in the jjresent circumstances. 

The Council having fully deliberated upon the matter before 



29 

them and the question bein<i,' ]nit of what jiosition the troops 
onj^lit to take, whether at or near Cliarh)Ue or at the Waxhaws 
or in the neighborhood, the junior .niend)er, Lieutenant Col. 
AN'ashington, gave it as his opinion that at or near Charlotte 
slioiild be the present jjosition of the army to which every other 
member of the Council consented but Gen. Smallwood, wlio was 
for the army's moving to the Waxhaws, taking post there for 
three weeks, and then returning to Charlotte, 
(Signed:) 

H. Walter Gates^ 
W. Smallwood, 
Isaac Huger, 
Daniel Morgan, 
Wm. Davidson, 
Thad Kosciusko, 
("ThadeiTs of Warsaw.'") 

N. PjITFORD, 

J. E. Howard. 
Wm. Washington. 
— . — . Clovis, Richmond, Sec'y. to Gen. Gates. 

To Gen. Gates : 

Camp (^olo. Phifer's, October <>, 1780. 

Tlie enemy is still confined to Charlotte. The small rifle 
companies I have kept hanging u]ion their lines have been of 
service in cliecking their foraging jtarties. They are ]»robab]y 
I.SIM) strong, including those Loyalists they have received re- 
cruited in the Southward. Besides these they have some un- 
foinit'd tories who follow the fortunes of the army; rather a 
dead weight than a benefit. 

A Col. Ferguson, in the llritish service, has by a vai'iety of 
means been j ernicious to our interests in the west of both the 
Ca.rolinas. There has such a force taken the field against him 
as v.ill probably rid us of such a troublesome neighbor. As the 
main strength of the British in the Southern States seems col- 
lected in Charlotte I have adopted every measure in my power 
to annoy them. 

WM. DAVIDSON. 



30 

Dispatch to Gen. Sumner: 

October 8th, 1780. 

I have the jvleasiire to enclose yon a larije packet of dispatch- 
es taken yesterday at Mc('al}»in's creek on tlie way to Camden 
by a small jiarty of my brigade. A detachment of ll'O horses 
under Kutleilge and Dixon almost snrronnde 1 Charlotte yes- 
terday, attacked a pickquet at (Nd. Tolk's mill and al a cerlain 
Mr. Elliott's brought a sen1i-y of «'iglil Tories who aie now on 
their way to you. A small j.'arty of rillcmcn brought olf lifty 
horses from the Tories at Col. Tolk's jilantatiiMi last night. 
Dixon lost one man killed. 

I have the honor to be, etc., etc. 

WM. DAVIDSON. 

Vol. XIV., p. G44. 

Camp Rocky River, Oct. 10, 1780. 
Sir: — I have two detachments of Cavalry and Infantry, each 
on the enemy's line. A considerable (juantity of powder was 
secured some time ago within four miles of Charlotte, which 1 
knew nothing of until Sunday evening. 13 cags were brought 
off that night, and the remainder sixteen have this moment ar- 
rived safe, which I will forward immediately. Pray let me 
know if his Lordship's figures have been decijdiered yet. 1 find 
he is determined to surprise me and I am as determined to dis- 
appoint him. Inclosed you have a draft of the enemy's lines 
which was sent to me by Col. P k, whilst a prisoner. I be- 
lieve it may be depended on. (^ol. Davie is very ])oorly. 

I am etc., etc., 

WM. DAVIDSON." 

N. B.^Gen. Graham in an address at Charlotte, May 20th. 
1835, says this j)owder had been moved from Camden to Char- 
lotte in the fall of 1771), and was guarded hy the students of the 
Academy; that when there Avas exi)ectalion of the enemy ad- 
vancing several of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration 
on a day agreed upon came with sacks in which they tilled the 
powder and conveyed it to places of safety, they appeared like 
boys going to mill. It was concealed in separate places — after- 



wards afforded a reasonable supply — not much was damaged 
and the enemy ^ot none. (N. C Booklet, January IIMKI.) 

Tuesday eyening a small party of my infantry fell in will) 
two wagons on llieir way from Camden within two miles of 
Charlotte. They killed two men. took and brought off the wag- 
ons, horses and portmanteaus with otTrtcers' baggage. (Page 
786.) 

To Gen. Sumner: 

October 11, 1780. 

Nothing new from Charlotte. Had we more men we could 
make their forage cost them dear. The ajtpearance of 50 men 
yesterday caused 100 to return without a handful. Inform 
Gov. Nash.